5 innovative ways to encourage AI adoption in your org

rebecca hindsRebecca Hinds
January 10th, 2024
3 min read
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This article was originally published on Inc.

In the evolving landscape of AI, sticking strictly to the traditional playbook is unlikely to yield the best results. Integrating new technology like AI into your business operations is often met with resistance. It's human nature—we're generally wary of change. To truly get your employees on board with AI, you'll need to think differently. Flipping the script on conventional wisdom could be the catalyst you need for change. 

Here are five unconventional yet potentially transformative ideas to encourage broader AI adoption within your organization.

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1. Launch an AI Immersion Week

Imagine dedicating an entire week to going "all in" on AI. Encourage your team to use AI for every task, whether big or small. It may seem a bit audacious, but the potential for learning and transformation is significant. In my experience, this kind of full-throttle exploration into AI can demystify the technology for team members and boost their confidence in using it. 

In workplaces today, AI tends to play a more peripheral role in day-to-day work. In our research at The Work Innovation Lab, Asana's internal think tank, we found that only 36% of employees use AI on a weekly basis. An AI Immersion Week is designed to deepen this engagement, pushing beyond sporadic use to a more in-depth exploration and understanding of AI's capabilities. 

There are two key benefits of AI immersion. First, it allows employees to uncover the most effective applications of AI, some of which they may have never expected. Second, it provides clearer insight into AI's limitations. Understanding what AI can't do is just as important as recognizing AI's strengths. It sets realistic expectations, dispels myths, and alleviates fears and apprehensions. 

2. Bring a contrarian into AI strategy conversations

In our research, we've found that executives are much more optimistic about AI than other employees. Sixty-one percent of executives believe using AI will help their companies hit their objectives more effectively than not using AI, while only 46% of individual contributors say the same. 

This enthusiasm is valuable, but there's a risk of developing a rose-tinted view of AI's capabilities. To mitigate this, consider appointing a "designated contrarian" in important AI strategy meetings and brainstorming sessions. This isn't about creating conflict for its own sake but about enriching the discussion with diverse viewpoints. 

Research suggests that teams benefit from having a contrarian. By thoughtfully considering varied viewpoints, you can sculpt an AI strategy that's not only ambitious but also realistic and grounded in diverse insights. 

3. Launch an AI Brain Boost

Another effective method to kindle enthusiasm for AI is to put your employees in the driver's seat. Introduce an "AI Brain Boost," where each team member selects an AI use case they believe will enhance their human capabilities. The activity is designed to shift the perception away from AI being a top-down directive to a tool that employees can control.

By giving employees more choice in how AI is integrated into their roles, you'll address a critical concern—especially among junior employees—about being overpowered or replaced by AI. You'll also tap into the "IKEA effect," the concept that people value and are more committed to what they have a hand in creating.

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4. Incentivize AI adoption

Without proper incentives, AI adoption in your workforce is likely to fall short of your expectations. One way to encourage employees to embrace AI is by incorporating AI skills development into performance reviews. This should include both "hard" AI skills, such as basic coding and prompt engineering, as well as "softer" skills like empathy and a willingness to experiment. 

Incorporating AI skills into performance metrics does more than just equip employees with necessary competencies; it also helps mitigate resistance to technological change. Our research has found that when companies provide training on AI, employees become more confident in using the technology and develop a more optimistic outlook toward it. 

5. Make AI fun 

In the often-serious world of AI, injecting fun into the mix is key to encouraging adoption. One way to do this is by celebrating AI "wins" within your organization, both big and small. Organize workshops, hackathons, or brainstorming sessions where employees can experiment with AI tools, explore their capabilities, and see how AI can enhance their work. Consider hosting internal competitions for employees to develop AI-based solutions for current problems or new projects. 

The goal should be to cultivate "deep fun"—the kind of enjoyment that comes from meaningful and engaging work. This doesn't just make AI more approachable; it turns its adoption into a collaborative and stimulating experience for the entire team.

A new approach to AI adoption

Integrating AI into your organization isn't just about rolling out new technology. It's about rethinking how we work. These five unconventional ideas can be strategic steps toward greater AI adoption. The ultimate payoff? A more adaptable workforce that's fluent in AI and also poised to lead and innovate with it. 

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